Wednesday, August 27, 2014

STB: Four Years and Counting

On August 27, 2010, I published a blog entry titled A Critique of Sye Ten Bruggencate’s in which I examined and refuted Sye’s case for the existence of the god he has enshrined in his imagination. That was four years ago.

To date, Sye Ten Bruggencate has yet to vindicate his argument against my refutation. Given Sye’s boisterous activity and self-promoting presence in the internet universe, I highly doubt that his failure to salvage his argument from my criticism is simply a consequence of oversight or lack of interest in apologetics. Rather, it seems that he is unable to respond to the objections which I have raised against his argument because his argument is indeed fatally weak for the reasons that I have presented.

Moreover, since Sye continues to produce videos of himself aggressively regurgitating his canned presuppositionalist gambits and slogans, it appears that he’s banking his apologetic on the hope that any would-be victims of his predatory evangelism will be completely unaware of the faults of his position and thus vulnerable to its insidious gimmickry.

Sye is of the mentality that happily mistakes philosophy for a spectator sport. He is like a politician who was spawned out of a high school debate club, able to take any random position assigned to him and defend it without regard to his own convictions or sense of truth and constantly campaigning for some agenda on behalf of some ulterior gain. Contrary to the tired and all-too predictable posturing, truth does not matter to such an individual. What matters most is being able to return to the benches and being greeted with gleeful approval from the backslappers who’ve been watching and cheering from there all along.

Thus I don’t expect that Sye will ever return to defend his argument against the points that have been raised against it here. He would prefer to pretend that such points have never been raised. The cheap, second-handed gimmick of characterizing logic, science, moral principles, etc., as “immaterial” things that cannot be “accounted for” by those who reject supernaturalism is, sadly, all too effective on those who have been left utterly philosophically defenseless by our worsening education system and decaying culture, and it is on preying on such vulnerable minds that Sye would rather spend his efforts and energy.

Again, it comes down to choices, which means it comes down to character. A person who chooses to worship a deity who – according to its own mythology – chose to sit back and allow villainous individuals to torture and execute its own child when it could have effortlessly intervened to protect its child, has already made a fundamental choice about the kind of moral fiber his character shall be made of. It is such self-debasement that the Christian worldview requires as a minimal price that the believer has to pay up front, even before realizing the toxic nature of the emptiness he’s about to buy.

by Dawson Bethrick


Justin Hall said...

Sye Ten is something between a con artist and a circus clown. He will never come to take up the challenge. Two reasons, one he knows you would intellectually destroy him and two there is no $$$$ to be made. Remember this is a guy that walked off of a public debate because of how poor a showing he was making. Sorry Dawson but I predict that six years from now you will be putting up your 10 years and still no response from Sye post.

Tommy Hunslapper said...

As long as humans have imagination, we will have mystics. And as long as we have mystics and generally 'woo-minded' masses, we will always have the unscrupulous and similarly deluded there to fleece them. And the last thing hucksters ever want is serious scrutiny of their position. Sye and his ilk are just the latest in a long line Snake Oil salesmen.

''Religion was invented by the first con-man who met the first fool.'' -Some dead guy.

Unknown said...

Hello there Dawson. Good blog. If you've time and inclination, take a look at this blog entry allegedly refuted Objectivim.

With your expert knowledge of O-ism, it'd be interesting if you could write a rebuttal blog entry.

Best and Good.

Ydemoc said...


I just posted the following comment over on the site that you linked to.
Hi Ryan,

In your introduction, you wrote: "Still, one would think the conclusion that Objectivism is a flawed philosophy would elicit a reaction from its adherents."

Or, one might think not, since Objectivists are under no obligation to go around answering every single objection to their philosophy. However, in this instance, Mr. Robbins has been answered. For example, from Dawson Bethrick's blog, "Incinerating Presuppositionalism," you'll find the following entry:

John Robbins and the Foreclosure of His Critique of Objectivism

Also see:

By Chris Matthew Sciabarra

By the way, come on over to Dawson's blog and comment some time, if you're up for it.


Unknown said...

Good morning Ydemoc, Justin, Dawson and friends. Thanks to Ydemoc for his comments.

I'm loading

Onto my tablet for the morning commute read.

Best wishes and regards

Unknown said...

Dawson wrote:

Now when a Vantillian presuppositionalist runs to Robbins as his savior, you can be assured that he’s on the ropes. Vantillians and Clarkians are bitter enemies, but in my experience Vantillians tend to cave into the Clarkian camp before Clarkians ever resort to Van Til. This is because the Clarkian position is more consistently mystical. For instance, it denies empiricism in toto (and just so readers know that I’m not making this up, check out this monstrosity). As such, it is only logical – on the basis of Christianity’s premises – for believers who are faced with insurmountable difficulties to retreat into the thick forest of an overtly subjective viewpoint, even if it belongs to one of their arch-rivals. So in a sense, Bolt is right on schedule.

in his blog on John Robbins book at

What other differences characterize the chasm between Clarkians and Van Tillians? How can either be easily recognized in blog or forum discussion?


Unknown said...

"If a concept is to be a device of cognition, it must be tied to reality. It must denote units that one has methodically isolated from all others. This, in Ayn Rand's words, is the basic function of a definition: "to distinguish a concept from all other concepts and thus to keep its units differentiated from all other existents." ~ OPAR p.96

The unknowable god of Christianity is by arbitrary definitional fiat (floating abstraction) impossible to know, impossible to comprehend, impossible to conceive of such that all claims of knowledge of the alleged "being" are false.

This is why the fallacy of pure self reference is so powerful. Anton Thorn plus George H. Smith makes a team that can't be beat.

praestans said...

presuppositionalism reminds me of my muslim friends and their ash'are / maturede creeds. but for Allah, wun can't move...and fire woudn't have the property'v heat...(quran 21.69)

الله أعلم وأنتم لا تعلمون

'God nos and you do not no' states the quran, the baneful cry'v the muslim worriur allah-bent on wrecking civilisation.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Robert & Ydemoc, and everyone else…

Been really busy, but I did see the link that Robert gave to the blog entry attacking Objectivism. I have not read the entire blog entry, but I did scan it briefly. Saw a few things that caught my eye.

The first was Ryan’s following statement:

“Just as Rand’s choice to value life rather than non-existence was arbitrary, so too her choice of which values to regard as important and thus select for artistic recreation were arbitrary.”

Frankly, I’m finding it more and more difficult to explore someone’s writings much further once I’ve seen statements such as this. The concept ‘arbitrary’ essentially denotes a position or view accepted without the support of evidence. It’s hard to see how one can suppose that a living organism with conceptual ability would have no alternative but to make the choice to live arbitrarily. If Rand enjoyed living and was aware of this fact, that would be more than sufficient evidence to ground her choice to live rather than to die. And by all accounts, Rand enjoyed living. In fact, she considered the enjoyment of life a goal worth living for. So how was Rand’s choice to value life rather than non-existence arbitrary?

Moreover, the claim that her choice of which values to regard as important was also arbitrary only suggests that Ryan has not understood the most basic concepts of Rand’s ethics at all well. The first time I read it, I had no difficulty understanding what she explained in her essay “The Objectivist Ethics” (in The Virtue of Selfishness) where she detailed the relationship between values and the conditionality of man’s life. We are confronted with the evidence for her analysis of the nature of values every moment of our waking lives. Does Ryan not eat food, drink fluids, work for an income, maintain a shelter, etc.? Our nature as biological organisms is the metaphysical basis of what we identify as values and how we determine their importance.

Elsewhere, in a footnote (#24), he asserts that Rand was “an ontological nominalist whose consciousness creates abstractions ex nihilo” What support is given for this? Rand did not hold that abstractions were mind-independent entities to begin with, but rather the *form* in which the mind integrates and retains knowledge. Metaphysically, knowing is a type of *activity* - which ultimately means that abstraction is a type of action, not an entity as such. The entity involved is man and anything or things he perceives, identifies and integrates. Also, since abstractions are formed by means of a conceptual process (cf. concept-formation), there would be no “ex nihilo” to speak of: concepts are formed on the basis of perceptual input. What part of “the material provided by the senses” does Ryan not get?

With statements such as the above examples, I can only suppose that he’s grinding an axe simply because he views Objectivism to be a threat to his religious fantasies. And yes, it’s true, Objectivism will not allow a thinker to mistake what he imagines for reality. Sadly, some find this restriction too constraining and thus feel a need to destroy Objectivism.

As for John Robbins’ book, perhaps Ryan might want to check out the following (available on my website):

Has Objectivism Been Refuted? by Bryan Register
John Calvin vs. Ayn Rand Or, The Theological Theatrics of John Robbins, by Jim Peron

Hope that helps.


Justin Hall said...


the link back to the original article about Sye appears to be broken.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Thanks, Justin! I hadn't noticed that happened... again!

I have fixed the offending link.


Anonymous said...

It's quite impressive how easily these presuppositional bullshit is debunked, yet we see an immense proliferation of imbeciles starting to follow that crap. Curiously, the types who start following this crap are easily prone towards becoming pretentious idiots. Nothing, not even something as clear as showing them that they engage in obvious straight-forward contradictions, stops them in their feelings of superiority. I think that this line of rhetorical bullshit has a nasty effect on Christians. It destroys the last particle of honesty and self-respect that they might have had. I'm glad that you have this blog Dawson.

Tommy Hunslapper said...

Citing your Proof for the Non Existence of God on FB started severe criticism of said proof

I hope in hindsight that my promulgation of your work is acceptable.

If not I will delete the post... in retrospect I should have asked permission First..

I meant well

and yes yes .. road to hell... good intentions..

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Photo,

I had some thoughts in response to your comment.

“Curiously, the types who start following this crap are easily prone towards becoming pretentious idiots.”

It could be the other way around, in some cases at least. It’s possible that some presuppers were already pretentious before they got suckered in by presuppositionalism, and presuppositionalism has licentiously invited them to brandish their pretentiousness to ever greater proportions. Van Til was purportedly never happy with the name ‘presuppositionalism’ for his apologetic. Perhaps it should be called “pretentionalism.”

As the model of Jesus and other biblical heroes makes so clear, Christianity demands self-sacrifice. Given this, it can only thrive in a person who is willing to sacrifice his character. Naturally, anyone who gives up something is most likely going to expect something in return, even if he insists that he does not. A person who gives up his character, then, is going to want some kind of vindication in the face of those whom he is encouraged by Christianity to consider his “enemies” (see the Psalms for repeated examples of this mindset). Presuppositionalism offers a tailor-made platform for the attitude characterized by “You don’t believe? Well aren’t you stupid!” A militant Christian apologist is aching for some kind of device which can fill the religion-induced psychological void created as a result of sacrificing one’s character to something utterly imaginary. Presuppositionalism fits the bill like nothing else.

“Nothing, not even something as clear as showing them that they engage in obvious straight-forward contradictions, stops them in their feelings of superiority.”

They have already sacrificed reason, otherwise they would not have accepted Christianity in the first place. Along with reason, logic necessarily gets jettisoned. It’s simple as that. They’re happy to swallow contradictions so long as they can perform some maneuver in the name of their imaginary god purportedly showing that there is no contradiction after all. The Vantillian version of this (and others may use it as well) is that, while it may “seem contradictory” to man, it’s not “truly contradictory” to the Christian god, so it’s not a “real contradiction.” So long as such an out is permitted by one’s worldview, contradictions are welcome so long as they play along with the mind-game.

“I think that this line of rhetorical bullshit has a nasty effect on Christians. It destroys the last particle of honesty and self-respect that they might have had.”

Or, it just brings out their true colors. But I’m sure in many cases, presuppositionalism serves to amplify insidious traits that would otherwise be kept in check. What’s important to keep in mind is the fact that there is an underlying presumption within Christianity of social hierarchism: the us-vs-them mentality (cf. the chosen vs. the damned) is present even in Genesis and is perpetuated throughout the NT. No apologetic method can wash itself of this completely, but it seems to thrive like stage IV cancer under the influence of presuppositionalism.

“I'm glad that you have this blog Dawson.”

Thanks, Photo. As I once told Chris Bolt, my blog is a labor of love. I don’t think there’s anything quite like it anywhere else on the net.


Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi David,

You wrote: "I hope in hindsight that my promulgation of your work is acceptable."

Of course, I appreciate anyone's efforts to spread the word. Don't worry about the intestinal reactions that you'll see in response to what I've argued on my blog. I've seen it all my rational life. Nothing shocks me any more.

Again, if someone can explain how they "know" their god without needing the imagination, I'd like to know.

Okay, it's dinner time here in Bangkok. Gotta run!


Unknown said...

Hello David.
You wrote // Citing your Proof for the Non Existence of God on FB started severe criticism of said proof //

The purpose of the 'God is imaginary.' argument is to tempt the P.A. to claim (a) their gods aren't fantasies or (b) that fantasies are actuals thus opening the way for deployment, in case(a), of the arguments from non-cognitivism and primacy of existence, or in case (b) of argument for objectivity and against skepticism.

Tommy Hunslapper said...

Thanks Dawson.

I used it as a jumping off point to ask my question which is very much akin to the one u pose.

Can the theist propose a repeatable 'Method' to allow Others to reliably differentiate between Their 'god claims'/ Revelation and merely their 'Imagination?

And so far, none come even close. Most try and answer another question entirely, not the one I have asked, or they dance and wave their hands over my criteria. Occasionally, an honest one will frankly admit that they cannot. Rarely.

It is entertaining to watch them dance tho :)

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello David,

You wrote: "And so far, none come even close."

That is my experience as well. As you state, they embark on trying to answer an entirely different question. Or, in the case of many, they try to make it a personal matter and start attacking the individual who raised the question in the first place, as though they had been insulted by the very posing of the question (which says a lot right there as it is).

Many theists have responded by urging me to prove that their god is imaginary. I point out to them that I find that I have no alternative but to engage my imagination whenever I contemplate what they describe as their god and all the stories and notions that come along with their confessional investment. So I know that I'm using my imagination. What makes them different in this regard? What are they using, if not their imagination? Again, no palpable answer is ever forthcoming. But typically, attitudes continue to rev up.

I'd be curious to see the exchanges you're getting on your Facebook page. I do not have a Facebook account. Can I access your forum without having an account? Or, perhaps you can post some of the exchanges here for everyone here to see? That might be best if it's not too much labor.


Unknown said...

Good Morning Dawson. Thank you for running this blog and for answering my many questions over the years. Cheers - a toast to your health and well being. :)

Anonymous said...

Tanks for the comment Dawson. As I was reading it, it occurred to me that Christianity gives the "character assassination" concept a brand new meaning.

Justin Hall said...

My friend John, Bahnsen's fanboy is at it again.